Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Feb. 1, 2005
Game 22: Ole Miss (11-10, 2-6) vs. Auburn (10-9, 1-5)
REBELS RETURN HOME FOR AUBURN: Ole Miss returns home, and tries to snap a four-game skid against Auburn Wednesday. After nip-and-tuck losses to No. 8 Kentucky, No. 22 Alabama and LSU on the road, the Rebels suffered a second-straight road defeat to hot-shooting Vanderbilt 73-51 Saturday. Senior forward Kendrick Fox topped the Rebels in scoring for the second time in his career with 13 points and nailed 3-of-6 from behind the arc. Sophomore guard Todd Abernethy nearly notched his first double-double with 9 points and team-highs of 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Senior forward Marvin Moore hit double-figures for the third time in the last six games with 10 points.
BARNES IN SEVENTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in his seventh season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and recently took the bench for his 200th game as a head coach. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 124-85 record. Barnes' 124 coaching victories in his first 210 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .590 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of seven years or more.
In 2000-01, Barnes was the SEC Coach of the Year, and guided Ole Miss to a school-record 27 wins and the program's first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 berth. Another winning season and postseason tournament followed in 2001-02 -- both were the sixth straight for the Ole Miss program.
Barnes was hired as the Rebel head coach on April 9, 1998. A 1988 graduate of Ole Miss, Barnes served as an assistant under Evans from 1993-98. During his time as an assistant coach, the Rebels compiled a record of 76-63 and won back-to-back Southeastern Conference Western Division titles and received consecutive NCAA Tournament berths in 1997 and 1998. Barnes played at Ole Miss from 1984-88 and was named All-SEC his senior season. He still ranks on the Ole Miss career charts in scoring (18th; 1,201 points), assists (2nd; 456) and steals (7th; 154).
SCOUTING AUBURN: Auburn started conference play with five-straight losses in the Tigers' worst SEC start since going 0-10 in 1993-94. Auburn snapped the streak last time out with a 62-59 win over Tennessee Saturday. Coping with a lack of size and depth, first-year head coach Jeff Lebo has looked primarily to seven players -- six guards and a small forward. Freshman guard Toney Douglas is the SEC's third-leading scorer at 17.8, but has cooled off of late with three straight games in single-digits after only two in his first 16 collegiate contests. The only returning starters from last year's 14-14 team are senior guards Ian Young and Nathan Watson, who are averaging 15.3 and 10.9 points respectively. Young is top-10 in the SEC in scoring, assists, threes made, three-point percentage and free throw percentage. Watson led the Tigers against UT with 15 points. Senior forward Quinnel Brown, the club's tallest contributor at 6-foot-6, has been solid in his first season as a full-time starter, posting 13.2 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds. Brown is one six letterwinners on the AU roster.
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 110th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 66-43. The Rebels have won back-to-back games and five of the last nine encounters in the series, which began in 1927. Highlighted by Marvin Moore's career-best 23-point, 12-rebound performance, Ole Miss captured the season's first meeting 79-72 in Auburn. Last year, the home team prevailed in each game. The Rebels hold a 31-21 series lead in games played in Oxford, and have won four of the last five and nine of the last 11 meetings versus the Tigers in Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 6-7 versus Auburn and 4-2 against the Tigers in Oxford.
QUOTING BARNES: On facing Auburn: "After losing four games in a row, we are trying to get back to playing well. We have to get better as a team. Our kids have played extremely hard. We have our work cut out for us with Auburn coming in. It should be a good basketball game."
On playing Auburn again: "They look like a team that plays better together. I don't think they are doing a whole lot different, they are just executing better. They have played well the last two games. It's a much better team than we played two weeks ago."
On Londrick Nolen: "I think people are focusing on him a bit more. We have had some guys that had been shooting the ball well that haven't been shooting well since. Teams are focusing on him a bit more now, and he is trying to learn how to score when people are looking to stop him."
TIGER TIES: Two members of the Rebel family have close ties with Western Division rival Auburn. Ole Miss first-year assistant coach Tracy Dildy spent the previous two seasons as an assistant on the Plains and served as assistant head coach for recruiting in 2003-04. Also arriving in Oxford this year via Auburn was sophomore center Dwayne Curtis, who transferred to Ole Miss in May. Curtis, who is ineligible this season by NCAA transfer rules, played in 19 games, starting five, for the Tigers last year. Curtis will begin playing with the Rebels in 2005-06 with three years of eligibility remaining.
A CLOSE SERIES OF LATE: Although both schools have in-state rivals (Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Auburn-Alabama), you would almost think the Rebels and Tigers have a rivalry going from all the tight games the two programs have had in recent seasons. In the last 11 meetings between the two schools, 10 have been decided by single-digits, and in those 10, the average margin was 4.0. Ole Miss has a narrow 6-5 lead in the last 11 games. The last five games in Oxford have been decided by a total of 17 points (3.4 points) with Ole Miss winning four of them, including a 79-77 overtime upset of the No. 4 Tigers in 1999-2000.
YOU WANT IT, YOU GOT IT: Whether a starter or the sixth man, Todd Abernethy has been providing the Rebels whatever they need. After coming off the bench for the last 14 games, the sophomore team captain returned to the starting lineup Saturday at Vanderbilt as the shooting guard and nearly posted his first double-double with 9 points and team-highs of 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Abernethy started the first 34 games of his collegiate career, but moved to the sixth-man role earlier this seson against Memphis. In his 14 games off the pine, Abernethy has posted six double-figure scoring outings and five games with four or more assists. Against Mississippi State, Abernethy equaled his season-high for assists with 6 to go with 11 points and 4 boards. The Carmel, Ind., native topped Ole Miss in scoring in the win over Georgia with 13 points.
COMING UP SHORT: Facing difficult circumstances, the Rebels flirted with some near-upsets in the current losing streak, but have finished just short in the end. Matched up with two top-20 opponents and a pair of tough conference foes on the road, Ole Miss held halftime leads in three of the last four games and led by 8 or more points in the second half of those three. The Rebels led eighth-ranked Kentucky until the final 3:41, and had two shot attempts to tie the game in the 53-50 heartbreaker.
IT'S A STEAL: The Rebels collected 12 steals at LSU, marking the ninth time this season to clock in double-figure thefts. For the second straight game, Todd Abernethy made 3 steals, while Cavadas Nunnery added 3 more. In SEC play, Ole Miss is fifth in steals at 6.62 spg, while Nunnery is tied for eighth in the league at 1.50.
"TAD PAD" SWEET "TAD PAD": The "Tad Pad" has proven to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. The Rebels boasted a 12-5 home record last season and are 6-3 so far in 2004-05. Ole Miss has won 110 of its last 134 games (.821 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 29, 20 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 352-171 (.673 winning percentage) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season. In head coach Rod Barnes' era, the Rebels have a home record of 82-23 (.781 winning percentage), including a 35-19 homecourt record against SEC foes (.648 winning percentage).
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Rod Barnes' trademark defense has continued to key the Rebels' success. The Rebels rank third in the SEC in scoring defense (63.0), and limited Kentucky to 53 points -- the Wildcats lowest scoring output of the year and 22.6 below their average. Ole Miss held Alabama 14.8 points below their scoring average at 66. The Rebels have limited two opponents under 50 points this season (Southeastern Louisiana to 48 and Troy to 49), making 27 times in Barnes' seven years at the helm that the opposition was contained below 50. Ole Miss handcuffed Kentucky to 37.3 percent from the field, in one of five times this season an opponent has been held in the 30s in shooting percentage. The Rebels limited Georgia to 33.3 percent shooting and also pressured the Bulldogs into 21 turnovers. Ole Miss has forced four opponents into 20-plus turnovers. The Rebels, who tallied 12 steals, also held UGA sophomore guard Levi Stukes, the SEC's fourth-leading scorer, to no field goals (0-for-8) and four points --13 below his average.
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